Firsts in Auto History

Did you know the Duryea Brothers – Frank and Charles – developed the first commercial automobile business in Springfield Massachusetts?.  The brothers were bicycle makers who developed an interest in gasoline engines and saw the benifits of putting engines on wheels.  

Their first car was built and tested on the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts in 1893 and the Duryea Motor Wagon Company was founded in 1896.  The company had sold thirteen cars of the model Duryea by 1896.   It was an expensive limousine, which remained in production into the1920s.

America’s First Automobile Race was in 1895.  Six cars left Chicago’s Jackson Park on November 28, 1895 for a 54 mile race to Evanston, Illinois and back through the snow.  Frank Duryea won the race in car #5 in just over 10 hours at an average speed of 7.3 mph.  He won $2,000 and the Chicago Times-Herald Newspaper that sponsored the race wrote, “Persons who are inclined to decry the development of the horseless carriage will be forced to recognize it as an admitted mechanical achievement, highly adapted to some of the most urgent needs of our civilization.”

The first automobile accident was not long in coming.  The Duryea’s offered the first commercial automobile, the Duryea motor wagon, for sale in March 1896. New York City motorist Henry Wells hit a bicyclist with his new Duryea two months later.  The cyclist got a broken leg and Wells spent a night in jail.  We recorded the nation’s first traffic accident.

The first automobile insurance policy was issued in Dayton, Ohio in 1897.  One Gilbert J. Loomis bought a liability insurance policy from the Travelers Insurance Company for one thousand dollars. The policy protected Loomis if his car killed or injured someone or damaged their property.

Maybe you can’t be first for any of these things, but you can certainly talk to your Washington auto insurance professional to make sure yours is up to date!

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